It is 3:30 on Saturday morning. I can't sleep. I can blame it on my night shift sleep schedule, but truth is my mind and heart are racing to keep up with one another. I decided to get up and write. Hoping to clear my mind. This will be long. I'm writing it for me to remember later.
Thursday night was my last night of working at the hospital. It was much harder than I had anticipated. Saying goodbye to the co-workers who have become my friends was hard. I'm usually pretty tough. I can usually hold off the tears until I am alone, but there was one hug from one extra-special friend that put me over.
She told me how they would miss me and I thanked her for everything, telling her that she had no idea how much I had been forever changed by working the third floor.
For the readers who don't know the 3rd floor at this hospital, it is the main floor, the only MedSurg floor in this hospital. We get every variety of patients and it is a difficult floor to work. It is busy, it is stressful, it is constant change as patients of all varieties come and go. There is a great sense of teamwork on that floor...teamwork being the only way to work on this type of floor with such a wide variety of different illnesses and patients. The nurses/staff on this floor are amazing.
I thought a lot about how this place changed me. I know that God needed me to make a short layover there before moving on. He had people He needed me to meet. He had people that I needed to cross paths with so they could help me become a better person, and hopefully I helped them too.
I made friends who then let me see where I can grow. I made friends who then cheered me on. I made friends who changed my perspective in life. How that I have a little bit of value. That is the biggest thing I walked away with...they convinced me I have value to others.
Working as a secretary, at the station-the central hub of the floor, forced me to be stronger, made me more confident, helped me to see my strengths and my weaknesses. I am learning to let things slide.
Starting out, I wanted to quit. I didn't think I would be able to handle it at first. I can't handle someone yelling at me, or snapping at me. And I felt like I was constantly being snapped at. I was clueless and had endless questions that I'm sure drove everyone nuts and it took me awhile to realize the stress load of everyone and they weren't snapping at me they just needed someone to listen to them vent.
I decided, in my mind, to change the role of the secretary. Of course I had my duties of order entry, phones, etc., but I decided to take on the role of taking care of my nurses and aides. And I didn't take that responsibility lightly. In my heart they did become my nurses and I decided I would do all I could to help them through their shift.
I've heard stories from my sisters, two incredible RN's, of how difficult their job was. I tried to imagine all the stress they have. I knew I was limited to how I could help them, but I decided I was going to do everything I could to make their job easier. Sometimes it meant helping a nurse prep themselves mentally (and get files ready) to call that mean, nasty, crabby doc they knew was going to bite their head off. Sometimes it meant simply making them a cup of coffee. Sometimes it meant making them laugh. Sometimes it was simply listening to them vent about things. Sometimes it was just cheering them on, telling them they were great nurses and they could get through even the worst of nights.
I didn't expect it to be noticed. It wasn't supposed to be noticed. I just wanted to help them the best I could.
What I didn't expect was the amount of love and support I would be given when the time came for me to leave.
I'm still pondering it all in my heart.
It started with Monday night. A co-worker ordered us all pizza and then the secret slipped out...they had planned on surprising me with a DQ cake the following night. I always work Tuesdays and that would be the last night I get to work with that team....except this week my schedule was shifted and I was off on Tuesday. So the cake didn't work out, but in my eyes, it happened. The thought really does count. And I love them for that.
Wednesday was my last day working 2nd shift. My last day working part of day shift and part of night shift. Wednesday I left work in tears, speechless.
I first was given a gift from a special friend Sharon. We have had many gab sessions and she has helped me see me for who I am. To embrace the things about me that I once disliked. She gave me a special angel...to hang in my car and remember she is praying for me.
Then, one of the docs came to the desk and told me he had something in the break room for me. When we walked in he told me that he and another doc wanted to get me something. He pulled down a cake, but before I could see it, he told me that he wasn't sure what happened but that the cake he ordered wasn't what came. He wanted it to say 'Best Wishes Julie' or something to that affect. What came was:
I thought it was rather awesome. I told him that I thought it was so perfect...hilarious actually. The only thing that could have been better was if it said 'Happy Birthday Howard' or something equally off the wall. haha.
Honestly, I didn't see a cake that was wordless. I saw a cake that one busy doc took the time to order and the other extremely busy doc took the time to pick up. I saw an act of kindness that will never be forgotten. I felt something that I don't feel too often: I felt valuable.
I'm not sure what I stammered to him. I hope I at least said thank you.
A few minutes later I told them I was going to slip over to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat and return the ultrasound machine to ER. They had to tell the surprise that pizza was ordered and was going to be delivered at five as a going away party.
I quick ran the US to ER and when I was down there an RN vocera'd me (called me on the little call system) and told me to get back to the break room. I ran over from ER and walked in. I saw tons of pizza with a card and a little package, wrapped in purple paper, sitting on the table.
I took it out to the nurse's station and was swallowing my tears. I did not expect this. I opened the card and read all the notes the day shift nurses, aides, and other secretaries wrote. At this point the tears were almost coming out. I opened the gift and a gorgeous pen was in a box. Ann told me they wanted to get me something I could take to my new job and remember them all. That they wanted to do something for me because I took care of them.
Seriously. I was in shock at this point.
I said good-bye to the docs as they came in that evening for their rounds. I shared my cake with some of them that had been nice to me and told them I appreciated them being kind.
My favorite was the response from the infectious disease doctor. "You can't go. We will miss you." I assured him that if he missed me, I would be willing to page him in the middle of the night and bug him...then he wouldn't miss me anymore. haha. He asked if it was a good opportunity and I said it was. A great opportunity that will give my children and I a good life. He said "go then!" He asked where I was going and I told him. He said "Oh. You can't go there. They have Lyme Disease." I busted out laughing and told him that I thought I would be okay, but would consult him if I ever became ill with Lyme Disease. (And I'm quite certain you can get that in Ohio too...so I'm not too worried. lol)
Wednesday night I finished the night and said good bye to those I wouldn't work with again on Thursday. D and L: You know who you are. I love you both and will miss you terribly, but I'm so thankful we crossed paths in our lives. God truly had that orchestrated and had that planned.
Thursday night was my last night. I was working third and was working with some of the co-workers I have become closest too. I knew it was going to be a hard goodbye.
One nurse, A, had the night off...and it was her birthday. She drove in from 45 minutes away and brought in pizza for a goodbye party. She gave me a card, which made me laugh until my stomach hurt...written with many of our inside jokes...and a gift card to Kohls. I was stunned at the generosity.
Remember the Date Nut Cake I attempted to make? Jerry brought in the real deal to show me what it tasted like. And he was right. It was awesome.
He told the elderly baker that I was a co-worker who was moving to CT. Her response? "They don't make cakes like this Connecticut!"
Then he told her I make my own clothes.
(A joke...but one I don't ever want to forget so I wrote it here so I won't :-)
We all ate pizza and cake until we were almost all admitted for abdominal pain. It was so good we just kept eating.
Later that night, another RN, 'N' slipped me a card. I opened it and found a gas card and a kind message written. He told me later that he bought a small frozen cake and put it in the freezer. Not for us to eat that night, but for me to take and eat with my kids and celebrate when we get moved.
I found him getting a new patients bed ready and I thanked him. He told me that he couldn't have made it his first few months as a new nurse without my support...and all the times I helped him get ready to call a certain grouchy doctor. (Which funny enough, I got to help him prep one more time later that morning:-)
Day shift soon started trickling in around 6:30.
The time was coming when I was going to leave for good. I knew that this had to happen for me to move forward, but it doesn't make saying good bye any easier.
There were a few nurses I was glad I was able to say good-bye to in person, two in particular. To be honest, I was almost dreading it. I knew I would cry and I hate crying in front of people.
'Nic' came in and we immediately hugged, knowing this was it. She started crying and that was it for me. I had kept composure for 2 days, but I broke. I became friends with a lot of people on that floor; but felt exceptionally close to 'Nic'. She had helped me out so much and cheered me on.
I said good bye to everyone else, giving hugs, and well wishes.
Then I took the coward's route and left before saying good bye to the other nurse I knew I would have a hard time saying good bye too. There were a couple nurses on nights that I took on as my little sisters and one of them was there that night. I just couldn't say good bye. I'm planning on popping in next weekend and seeing her then. So that was part of my excuse...I'll say goodbye later. Plus, it was time for her to give report to the next nurse and there were too many doctors coming in and too much going on. I knew I couldn't say good bye without breaking down. So I snuck on the elevators and left.
There have been times that I wondered why God took so long in having me move after He told me to go. But looking back I see things that happened that needed to happen to allow me to be molded into the someone I needed to be. One of those things was working the 3rd floor of WRH.
I miss you all, already.